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The Ministry of Science and Technology
People's Republic of China


N0.211 January 20,2000
  •  China's Top Ten S&T Advances in 1999
  •  Major Breakthroughs for China's Animal Fetus Studies
  •  Internationally Advanced Magnetically Confined Nuclear Fusion
  •  China's Internationally Advanced Ion Beam Applications
  •  China's First Human Genome Data Bank


China’s Top Ten S&T Advances in 1999

China’s top ten S&T advances in 1999 selected by 524 academicians including renowned scientists such as Qian Xuesen, Wu Jieping, Zhou Guangzhao, Zhu Guangya and Lu Yongxiang from Chinese Academy of Sciences and Chinese Academy of Engineering were unveiled on January 6, 2000, in Beijing. The successful launch of China’s first experimental spacecraft topped the list.

1. China’s Successful Launch of Its Experimental First Spacecraft
At 6:30, November 20, 1999, China’s first experimental spacecraft “Divine Ship” was sent into the designated orbit from Jiuquan Satellite Launching Center.
The said first experimental flight of the spacecraft hallmarked China’s new breakthroughs in manned space technology. With China Academy of Space Technology
subordinated to China Space S&T Group, Shanghai Research Institute of Aeronautics and Space Technology and Research Institute of Carrier Rocket as major developers, both the spacecraft and associated launching vehicles were made by China onits own. Other organizations such as Chinese Academy of Sciences and Chinese Ministry of Information Industry were also involved in the experiment. This flight is an unmanned one though it is designed for manned mission. During ground preparation phase, the Launching Center applied the socalled “three verticals” approach (vertical assembling, vertical testing and vertical delivery)in line with international standards. The final testing and launching of the spacecraft and rocket were made through remote control system.

2. Major Breakthroughs for Oxygen Saving Nanometer Carbon Tube
Advanced carbon material research team headed by Cheng Huiming, Institute of Metallography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, have carried out for the first time in the country studies of oxygen saving features of one dimensional nanometer carbon materials and produced nanometer carbon fibers with relatively high oxygen saving capacity. In early 1999, the team started its research and development of single walled nanometer carbon tube and associated oxygen saving capacity. Collaborated with National Key Lab on Fast Freezing and Nonequilibrium Alloy and US Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the team produced single walled nanometer carbon tubes of an average diameter at 1.85 nanometers and high purity on a consecutively massive basis by using unconventional plasma hydrogen electric arc approach. Such large caliber tubes when appropriately processed may save more oxygen under normal indoor temperature. The research result was published in Science and is deemed the most convincing result so far achieved in the area.
3. Ozone Depletion Discovered in QinghaiTibet Plateau
With the help of satellite data and onthespot investigations, Chinese scientists have made an astonishing discovery that there is a socalled “low ozone valley” in summer over QinghaiTibet Plateau. Experts pointed out that this is another major scientific discovery following the former discovery of Antarctic ozone depletion in 1985. The said development has drawn wide concerns of world science community. This is the first time that scientists have revealed the fact that ozone depletion also exists over lower and middle attitude of the earth. Applied with modern technical means such as laser radar and ozone measurer, scientists have investigated the ozone concentrations over the region. The field investigations have produced the conclusion of existence of ozone depletion identical with that reached by satellite data in the same period. Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences and Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences and others explained after their further studies that thermal and dynamic elements are the major reasons behind the depletion.

4. Oldest Vertebrate Animal Fossils Discovered in China
Kunming Fish and Haikou Fish fossils unearthed by Shu Degan, Head of Institute of Early Life, Northwest University, and others and Haikou Insect fossils discovered by the research group headed by Chen Junyuan, research fellow, of Nanjing Institute of Geobiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, are the oldest vertebrate animal fossils so far discovered in the world at ages about 530 million years before. Discovered at Early Cambrian Epoch stratum dated back to 530 million years ago in Haikou District, Kunming City, the fossils have not only unveiled the whole picture of vertebrate life explosion in the period but also provided reliable evidence for studying the origins of vertebrate animals and their major organs. These important discoveries may lead to the modification of history on vertebrate origin.

5. Chronicles Defined for Xia, Shang and Zhou Dynasties
The socalled Xia, Shang and Zhou Dynasty Chronicle Project has achieved phased result. Chinese  scholars have defined chronicles for the said three dynasties as follows: Xia and Shang is demarcated between 1600 B.C. and 1500 B.C. and Shang
and Zhou between 1050 B.C. and 1020 B.C.. The said project is aiming at defining the chronicle division between the dynasties with the contributions from more than 70 experts in the fields of archaeology, history, astronomy, paleography and chronology. Without discovering any new ancient literatures, further archaeological evidence has become the key to the breakthroughs in defining the chronicle divisions for the dynasties.

6. China’s First Arctic Scientific Expedition
China made its first Arctic scientific expedition during the period from July to
September 1999. The said expedition is the first of its kind directly organized by the Chinese Government for large scale comprehensive scientific investigations over the Arctic region. It is also the maiden trip for China’s scientific expedition vessel. The expedition is missioned with major studying targets such as the role of Arctic region in global changes and its impacts on China’s climate, variation impacts of Arctic Ocean and North Pacific Ocean moisture mass exchanges on North Pacific Ocean currents, the impacts of ecological systems and biological resources of Arctic ocean and its adjacent marine areas on the development of China’s fishery and oceaniceairbiology interactions in the region. The said development is deemed another breakthrough in the last 15year polar expeditions, which has made China one of the few countries in the world capable of expeditions over the both poles of the earth. The expedition has achieved a number of major results.

7. China’s First Genetically Modified Ox
On the basis of its own developed technical approaches breeding genetically modified goat Shanghai Institute of Medical Genetics has successfully produced China’s first genetically modified tube ox. In the meanwhile, experts have also developed a new method greatly increasing the level of genetic expressions which mayraise the medical protein in the milk by over 30 times. Born on February 19, 1999, with a birth weight of 38 kilos, Taotao, as it was so named, has carried human protein genes introduced by scientists. When growing into an adult, the oxwill be able to accelerate the reproduction process of genetically modified oxen, which is a breakthrough free from cow’s long pregnancy process. Its 20 times higher yield of milk (annual milk yield of a cow may reach 10,000 kilos) than that of a goat will make mass production of protein rich milk possible.

8. China’s First Earth Resources Satellite Being Launched
At 11:16, October 14, 1999, China successfully sent “Resources No. 1”, an earth resources satellite jointly developed by China and Brazil into the designated orbit. A small Brazilian scientific application satellite was also released in the same launch. This is the first cooperation between China and Brazil in the field of space technology. Jointly developed by China Academy of Space Technology and Brazilian National Space Institute, the satellite is of a weight 1540 kilos, orbit height 778 km (solar synchronous orbit) and working life 2 years. Applied with threeaxis stabilization attitude control system, Resources No. 1 willsend real time visible, short wave infrared and thermal infrared imageries to China, Brazil and countries capable of reception when in operation.
9. China’s Successful Cloning of Panda Embryos
Through concerted efforts Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and
Fuzhou Panda Research Center have cloned the first group of panda fetus in the world by transplanting panda cells into the denucleated rabbit egg cells. This has once again demonstrated China’s advanced panda study capability in the world. Experts believed that successful cloning of early panda embryos indicates thesolution to the first key issue in panda cloning. In other words, heterocloning is able to make panda cells to split in the denucleated egg cells of another animal form, acquire its full functions and eventually form earlier fetus through the egg split. This also shows that it is feasible to clone endangered species with heterocloning techniques.

10. Internationally Advanced Substitute Blood
Being a major project in China’s national 863 program, Beijing Kaizheng Biological Engineering Co. has successfully transferred animal hemoglobin into safe and effective substitute blood. With the technique approaches of its own independent intellectual property rights and patents for three key techniques, the substitute blood developed by Kaizheng has reached the internationally advanced level.Kaizheng is now working on its commercialization and industrialization.
Beijing Stone Tiantan Biotechnique Co. Ltd. has bought out the patent right of the product and associated production permit at an amount of Rmb 160 million and will take part in the further development and industrialization of the result.


Major Breakthroughs for China’s Animal Fetus Studies

Shanghai Research Institute of Medical Genetics that had produced China’s first
genetically modified cow and goat has recently mastered gender identification technique for tube animals and associated fetus transplanting technique, the first of its kind both at home and abroad.

Started from the mid and late 1980s, the Institute has devoted itself to the said studies. Thanks to their a decade and more arduous efforts, scientists have for the first time in the world elaborated the core sequence of gene SRY determining the genders of cow and goat and made successful gender identification of embryos of cow and goat with the help of special gene augmentation technique. On the basis of the said result, they selected and transplanted the identified fetus so as to control the gender balance.

With the said techniques, scientists have conducted successful gender identification testing on 27 genetically modified tube cow embryos and 207 goat embryos, from which they selected 10 cow embryos and transplanted them into eight parent cows and 124 goat embryos into 44 parent goats. The tracking results have demonstrated the perfect match between predicted gender identifications and the actual ones after birth.

Prof. Zeng Yitao, a renowned scientist chairing the research, briefed that the new technique has not only solved the insufficient sources!of fine species embryos but also greatly improved the reproduction efficiency through gender control, which in turn may greatly shorten the cycle of industrialization of genetically modified animals. When applied with the technique in transplanting genetically modified cow embryos, the birth of a genetically modified cow could be advanced by more than 20 months.

The expert appraisal panel headed by Shi Luji, academician of Chinese Academy of
Sciences, thought highly of the result and termed it a major breakthrough in animal gender control studies. As shown by the result of world wide retrieval of 7.4 million academic papers on the topic, the said development is of internationally advanced level.

Internationally Advanced Magnetically Confined Nuclear Fusion

Not long ago Chinese scientists have obtained in their nuclear fusion studies quasistable plasma capable of reproducing itself with a discharging duration reaching as long as 10.71 seconds, a domestic record. The new development demonstrates China’s internationally advanced level in nuclear fusion studies.
Compared with the conventional Tokamak device, superconductivity Tokamak device
has become the frontier of magnetically confined nuclear fusion studies. In 1995, Institute of Plasma Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, successfully developed China’s first superconductivity Tokamak device, which made China the fourth country in the world capable of producing such device. A series of major scientific experiments were made on this device. In 1998, a major breakthrough was achieved by realizing a 5.7second long pulse discharging. The device has gained acknowledgement of the international community in the field. Recently, hundreds of scientists headed by Wang Yuanxi, Xie Jikang and Weng Peide have conducted a number of physics experiments on the device such as control of interaction between plasma and the first wall, wave heating and wave driven current and achieved the new discharging duration record.

It is reported that Chinese scientists are constructing a new generation Tokamak device, a major scientific project in the 9th FiveYear Plan period, to expect
new breakthroughs in the field and make their studies in line with international
cutting edge.

China’s Internationally Advanced Ion Beam Applications

Ion Beam Application Techniques, a research project listed in China’s national
major S&T program for the 9th FiveYear Plan period, has harvested major breakth
roughs through the concerted efforts of scientists of Institute of Ion Physics,
Chinese Academy of Sciences. The said internationally advanced results passed the verification and approval organized by Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology and Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Last three years have witnessed series of major breakthroughs in China’s studies of ion beam application techniques, especially in the areas of seeds breeding,special seeds breeding materials and basic theories. Experts confirmed the economic benefits of Rmb 1.7 billion derived from 17 innovation results and 6 new microbe strains.

Vc, a new bacterial strain of DNA restructured through ion beams, is of 94% saccharic acid transformation rate, which is close to the upper limit and advanced in the world. The strain has been successfully put into production at a pharmaceutical plant, which in turn made domestic Vc products strong in market competition. Applied with genetic mutation approach assisted by ion beams, the transformation rate of agricultural bacillus on paddy rice and the like has reached 100%, which led to the birth of genetically modified rice resistant to diseases. So far the Institute has developed 7 new species of high yield, fine quality and pest resistance and 6 new microbe strains.

With the help of ion beam mutation and introduction techniques, a special seed breeding material of internationally advanced economic and technological indicators was developed. Opposite corn mutated through ion beams is of great potentials of yield increase, which in turn reveals the special effects of genetic control
and associated plant growth. The rice with DNA introduced through ion beam technique is of a photoeffect 80% higher than that of ordinary corns.


China’s First Human Genome Data Bank

China’s first human genome data bank was created recently at Shanghai Borong Genes Development Co. Ltd., which hallmarked a new stage for China’s genetic studies.

The said data bank is able to collect genetic data automatically from gene sequencing instruments and perform through a series of dedicated software a number of functions such as sequence linking, samesource gene comparison, protein analys is and chromosome positioning. It is also able to collect information and data on genetic researches both at home and abroad.

At the appraisal meeting held recently, experts believed that the result has filled up a domestic blank with its internationally advanced level and will play animportant role in promoting China’s human genome studies and associated biological medical industry.

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